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Where Are All The Women Moviegoers At?


I’m very ambivalent about the smashing opening weekend of Sex and the City. On one hand, it is likely to mean multiple future film versions of a show that I found entirely devoid of aesthetic merit or interest. On the other hand, maybe it will stop idiotic stories about whether a movie that primarily appeals to women can make money. The fact that Hollywood studios make relatively few movies with women in the lead and then when some (like most pictures) aren’t hits blame the women is about as naked as sexism gets.

M. LeBlanc — while conceding many of the aesthetic demerits that I can’t get beyond — had a good post about this recently. Since even most fans of the movie aren’t claiming that it’s better written or acted that the show, I don’t plan to see it and would probably dislike it if I did. But aesthetic quality is beside the point of these kinds of discussions; plenty of comic book and Bay/Rattner style action movies have writing and acting that makes Sex and the City look like Chinatown but I don’t recall any articles using them to agonize over whether movies that appeal only to men are capable of making money or executives saying they’ll stop spending so much money on them when they flop.

Similarly, Rick Groen asserts that it “seems uniquely bad; this one is a threshold-breaker with a different sound, the crack of rock-bottom giving way to a whole deeper layer of magma.” Maybe so. But almost everything he then cites in defense of this claim is utterly banal for Hollywood product. Hype? Please, the new Indiana Jones movie (which looks pretty awful in its own right) has gotten at least as much. Length? I agree that 2 and 1/4 hours seems hellishly overlong for a mediocre-at-best sitcom, but it would actually be pretty lean for a Bay-era action movie. The inexplicable, tedious bloating of unambitious genre pictures is a phenomenon that far precedes Sex and the City. Window-dressing male characters? Not only would negligible female characters be so common that it would belabor the obvious to cite examples, but plenty of Michael Manns acquire very lofty artistic reputations despite little ability to create interesting female characters.

So I don’t see anything uniquely problematic here. Women deserve crappy Hollywood product too.

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